Below are examples of recent client projects.
Critique of Strategy/Removal of Impediments
The leadership of a large international law firm was frustrated with their progress in implementing an existing strategic plan. After calls by some partners to draft yet another strategic plan the leaders met to consider the idea but were convinced their existing plan was still the right direction and priority for the firm. They realized they were struggling to overcome critical, long term internal obstacles. MesaFive was asked to assess the overall strategy, advise how other more successful firms had overcome those same obstacles, advise about the mistakes other firms had made in the process, and then assist in the implementation.
MesaFive was asked by an AmLaw firm with profits in excess of $3 million per partner to assess the likely conditions, issues, and prospects for a merger with another AmLaw 20 firm. Despite their profits and a dominant market position, MesaFive determined the goals and objectives sought by our client would not be realized through a merger, and that the target firm wouldn't be interested in a whole firm merger but would likely respond with only a partial acquisition offer. After an initial social meeting the target firm proceeded to identify the same issues and obstacles identified by MesaFive, turning down the merger opportunity and instead expressing an interest in only a handful of lawyers as lateral hires.
Modifying Lockstep for a London Based Firm
A global firm based in London was using multiple compensation systems across its platform, but the majority of the firm still utilized a modified lockstep system. The firm's leadership was frustrated because, despite experimenting with a number of homegrown improvements, the firm was losing critical partners to competitors and hearing constant complaints about the compensation results. Our consultants designed a new approach to compensation based on proven, fundamental compensation concepts (some of which are counter intuitive). That new compensation system has now been expanded throughout the firm's global platform and has been cited as one of the significant integration steps for the firm.
Advice and Counsel to Chair
MesaFive was asked to provide confidential counsel to the new leader of this AmLaw firm. Despite profits exceeding $3M per partner, and long term firm success, the leader wanted a private sounding board to explore new ideas, understand the experiences of other firms with similar market position, test management concepts, and to critique and flesh out initiatives before they were rolled out to the rest of firm management and the firm. The Chair of this firm has repeatedly cited this counseling arrangement as being one of the most critical elements in the firm's success over the last two years.
This type of confidential counseling arrangement is one of the most frequent requests we receive at MesaFive.
Partner Compensation Advice
An AmLaw firm was experiencing widespread unhappiness with their partner compensation results, despite profits of more than $3 million per partner and record increases year-over-year. MesaFive was asked to serve on the Partner Compensation Committee to interview partners, resolve the most difficult compensation issues for both high performing and under performing partners, describe how much other similarly profitable firms would pay equivalent partners, and provide advice to the Committee members during their year end deliberations.
Merger Negotiation Assistance
Two law firms had been engaged in merger discussions for more than a year, and had reached a stalemate in the negotiations. MesaFive was asked to work for both firms by reassessing the business strategy of the merger and then advising both parties how to overcome the structural obstacles that had halted the negotiations. In less than a month MesaFive resolved the outstanding negotiation points resulting in a successful merger vote by both firms.
An AmLaw firm with profits exceeding $3 million per partner was notified by a litigation client that the firm was immediately terminated. This despite that the client had already paid the firm more than $25 million in fees, and was less than four months from trial. MesaFive was asked for assistance and developed an intervention strategy. That strategy not only recovered the client allowing the firm to continue the case all the way through trial, but was so successful that the client adopted the approach from MesaFive as its new standard for communicating with and providing feedback to outside counsel.
Lessons Learned From Competitors
MesaFive was retained by a firm with profits exceeding $4 million per partner to advise the leadership about the most common challenges and mistakes in similarly high performing firms. This firm had no meaningful issues or significant problems, but like many extraordinarily successful firms, their leadership wanted to be proactive in identifying the less obvious, subtle threats that have damaged or destroyed other firms. MesaFive agreed to do the project on a confidential basis, without disclosing the names or identifying information of the firms that were the focus of the project.
A large US based law firm contacted MesaFive to seek a critique of its existing strategy. We advised the client that we don't believe in voluminous strategic plans full of aspirational slogans, but rather, find it more successful to help firms focus on the most significant, most difficult strategic challenges and opportunities. The Chairman hired MesaFive to guide the firm's Board through a planning process involving fundamental cultural and market decisions. MesaFive did not write the firm's plan (because we strongly believe that is a function the firm should own), but provided a critical reality based sounding board to the process, and suggested additional issues/solutions for the plan.
Lateral Partner Strategy
Unlike traditional headhunters, MesaFive's role was focused on helping the firm remake its entire lateral hiring process, developing a more focused targeting campaign run by the firm, and then guiding the discussions with prospective laterals. Unlike efforts that often contact numerous candidates with widely varying levels of success or applicability to the firm's needs, this process focused on identifying just two highly successful partners, both of whom were successfully recruited by the firm.